Granville County was originally formed in 1746 from Edgecombe County. It was named for John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville, who as heir to one of the eight original Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina, claimed one eighth of the land granted in the charter of 1665. The claim was established as consisting of approximately the northern half of North Carolina and this territory came to be known as the Granville District, also known as Oxford.
John Penn (1741-1788) was an affluent politician of early America, as he was one of the three signers from North Carolina to sign the Declaration of Independence. After earning his admittance to the bar, Penn moved to Granville County in 1774. Granville County had become the hub of Carolina’s independence campaign. A remarkable orator, Penn had earned a place at the Third Provincial Congress of 1775, and he replaced Richard Caswell, joining William Hooper and Joseph Hewes in Philadelphia for the convening of the Continental Congress in 1776. Later, John Penn, with Cornelius Harnett and John Williams, signed the Articles of Confederation for North Carolina. Penn retired to Granville County, and he died at a relatively young age of 48 years old in 1788.
Granville has remained a top tobacco-producing county in North Carolina for several decades due largely because of the sandy soil. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, Oxford, the county’s largest town, had become a thriving town with new industries, schools, literary institutions, and orphanages forming due to jobs created by the bright tobacco crop. In the 1950s and 1960s, various manufacturing businesses had built up across Granville County, and the region gradually moved away from the agricultural sector. Today, the manufacturing industry produces china, tires, and clothing products in Granville County. Other towns in Granville County include Butner, site of a WWII training camp, and Creedmoor, located just north of Wake County and Falls Lake.